The Imperialist

By (author) Sara Jeannette Duncan
Edited by Misao Dean
Categories: Fiction: general and literary, Fiction and Related items
Publisher: Broadview Press
Paperback : 9781551115405, 356 pages, June 2005

Table of contents

Sara Jeannette Duncan: A Brief Chronology
A Note on the Text

The Imperialist

Appendix A: Personal and Domestic Contexts

  1. Sara Jeannette Duncan, “[North American Indians]. ” The Globe (29 July 1885)
  2. Sara Jeannette Duncan, “[The Old-Time Heroine]. ” The Week (28 October 1886)
  3. A Selection of Duncan’s Letters concerning The Imperialist
  4. From Sara Jeannette Duncan, “[Growing Golden-rod in Simla]. ” The Crow’s Nest (1901)
  5. Recipes from The Canadian Home Cook Book (1887)
  6. Twenty-fourth of May Celebration. The Brantford Expositor (22 May 1884)

Appendix B: Imperialism and the Tariff Question

  1. “A Pertinent Question. ” Diogenes (19 June 1869)
  2. “The Effect of the National Policy” (c. 1891)
  3. Sara Jeannette Duncan, “Imperial Sentiment in Canada. ” Indian Daily News (7 October 1896)
  4. From Goldwin Smith, “Commercial Union. ” Canada and the Canadian Question (1891)
  5. From Joseph Chamberlain, “Trade and The Empire. ” Imperial Union and Tariff Reform: Speeches Delivered from May 15th to Nov. 4 1903 (1903)
  6. “Hon. Geo. E. Foster Answers Sir Wilfrid Laurier” (1904)

Appendix C: Selected Reviews

  1. Unsigned. “Canada and Imperial Policy. ” New York Times (5 March 1904)
  2. Unsigned. Times Literary Supplement (22 April 1904)
  3. Unsigned. The Spectator (23 April 1904)
  4. Mary K. Ford, “The Novel of the Month: Mrs. Cotes’ The Imperialist. ” Current Literature (April 1904)
  5. J[ean] G[raham], Saturday Night (4 June 1904)
  6. Unsigned. Daily News [Toronto] (4 June 1904)
  7. E. Hoyt, The Lamp (July 1904)
  8. Unsigned. Canadian Magazine (July 1904)
  9. Unsigned. The Globe [Toronto] (13 August 1904)

Select Bibliography


Set in the fictional Ontario town of Elgin at the beginning of the twentieth century, this 1904 novel was in its own time addressed largely to British readers. It has since become a Canadian classic, beloved for its ironic and dryly humorous portrait of small-town life. But The Imperialist is also a fascinating representation of race, gender, and nationalism in Britain’s "settler colonies. " This Broadview edition provides a wealth of contextual material invaluable to understanding the novel’s historical context, and particularly the debate, central to the story, over Edwardian Canada’s role in the British Empire.

This edition includes a critical introduction and, in the appendices, excerpts from Sara Jeannette Duncan’s journalism and autobiographical sketches (including an essay on "North American Indians"), speeches by Canadian and British politicians, political cartoons, and recipes for the dishes served at the novel’s social gatherings. Contemporary reviews of the novel from British, Canadian, and American periodicals are also included.


“Despite its literary excellence, The Imperialist can be a challenging book. The thoughtful notation and well-chosen appendices of this edition do much to overcome the distance created by the passage of a century that saw dramatic changes in ideas and social expectations. Misao Dean enables us to appreciate Sara Jeannette Duncan as a sophisticated woman who adhered to some values of her day and contested others, and to admire her courage in writing a realistic novel about highly-charged political issues whose legacy affects us today. ” — Carole Gerson, Simon Fraser University